Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Queerying 4th after Pentecost A

ID: the name Ishmael written in Arabic calligraphy on a seal, in the style of Islamic art.

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Genesis 22:1-14

Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. Xe said to him, “Abraham,” 
And he answered, “Here I am.”

And Xe said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” 

So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the ass. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked off together.

Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” 

And he answered, “Yes, my son.” 

And he said, “Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 

And Abraham said, “God will see to the sheep for Xyr burnt offering, my son.” 

And the two of them walked on together. They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 

And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Becoming One called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” 

And he answered, “Here I am.” 

And they [the angel] said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me.” 

When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. 

And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, from which is the present saying, “On the mount of the Becoming One there is vision.”

Queeries for the text:
Where is there revisionist history in this story?
How is revisionist history resisted today?
How does God feel about child sacrifices?
What's the purpose of a burnt offering?
Which documents are noticeable in this redaction of the story?
Were Abraham and Isaac historical people?
Where is Adonai-Yireh today?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Queerying 3rd after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A. queeries the Tanakh reading.

ID: the Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother, a wood carving by Gustave Doré

Tanakh: Genesis 21:8-21
The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing.

She said to Abraham, “Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his.

But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you.

As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.”

Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar. He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child, and sent her away. And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes,

and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought, “Let me not look on as the child dies.” And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

God heard the cry of the boy, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is.

Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.

God was with the boy and he grew up; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman.

He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Queeries for the text:
[Note: These questions are pointedly toward white people.]
What do the Midrashim say about Hagar?
How is this story important to Islam?
Who do you most relate to in this text? Why do you feel a connection with them?
Who do those outside of us say that we are?
Who do we cast out? How do we cast them out?
How are we our kindred's keeper?
Who dies from the temper tantrums of white women?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

ID: a house sparrow stands on a light gray stone. The sparrow is a light gray-ish brown with light brown and black striped wings on its back.

Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39
Jesus said:
24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of the household!

26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves a parent more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves an offspring more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Queeries for the text:
What is the difference between teacher and master?
How is this text problematic?
What happens when people with power request secret keeping?
How many hairs are there to count?
From where do we get our value?
What sort of peace does Jesus resist?
How are family dynamics complicated?
How do we define people? How do we define God?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Queerying 2nd after Pentecost A

River Needham M.A., queeries the Tanakh reading.

Abraham and the Three Angels (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

Tanakh: Genesis 18:1-15

The Becoming One appeared to Abraham by the terebinths of Mamre; Abraham was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, “My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on—seeing that you have come your servant’s way.” They replied, “Do as you have said.” Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quick, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes!” Then Abraham ran to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree as they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he replied, “There, in the tent.”

Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah had stopped menstruation. 
Then, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?”

Then the Becoming One said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too wondrous for the Becoming One? I will return to you at the same season next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was frightened.

But The Becoming One replied, “You did laugh.”

Queeries for the text:
What are the terebinths of Mamre?
What is the purpose of Abraham's greeting?
Where do the men end up going? Why?
How do these characters challenge misogyny?
Who menstruates?
Why does the Becoming One put words in Sarah's Mouth?
How is laughter life giving?
How does laughter kill?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8[9-23]

35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the reign, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Head of the harvest to send out laborers into xyr harvest.”

10:1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The reign of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Provider speaking through you. 21Sibling will betray sibling to death, and a parent xyr child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Human One comes.]

Queeries for the text:
Who is harassed today?  Who is helpless?
Who is sent to their own people?
How do we create peace? What does peace not look like?
Who are wise as serpents?  Who are innocent as doves?  Who are both?
How does the Spirit speak through you?  Through others?

What are your queeries?

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Queerying Holy Trinity A

River Needham, M.A. queeries the Tanakh reading.

Tanakh: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

At the starting point, God formed the cosmos and the earth. The earth did not have shape; and darkness was upon the surface of the deep. God’s breath hovered over the waters on the earth.

God said: Let light be. Then God saw the light and that it was Good. God pulled apart the light and the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness Night. Dusk and Dawn were in there too. The first day came to be. Then, God wanted there to be an atmosphere between the waters. Let the atmosphere divide water from the water. So God made the sky and divided the waters under it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the atmosphere heaven. There was dusk, then dawn. The second day.

Next, God said: Let the waters below gather together so dry land can appear. And so it was. God called the dry land earth and the gathered waters God called seas. God saw that all this was good. Later, God said: Let the earth produce grass, herbs with seeds, trees that bear fruit. And so it was. The earth produced grass, herbs with seed, trees that bore fruit. God saw that all this was good. There was dusk, and dawn. The third day.

Then, God said “Let the sky have lights to divide the day from the night. Let them move about and distinguish signs, seasons, days, and years. Let them be lights in the atmosphere of the heavens to give light to the earth.” And so it was. So, God made two big lights. The biggest one ruled over the day, and the smaller of the big lights ruled over the night and stars. God set these lights in the atmosphere of the heavens so they could give light to the earth, to rule over the day and the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that all this was good. There was dusk, then dawn. The fourth day.

Next, God said “Let the waters move with collections of living beings. Let birds fly above the earth in the open atmosphere of heaven.” So, God created the great sea creatures, and every creepy-crawly, and the waters were filled with motion; so was the atmosphere of heaven. God saw that all this was good, then God blessed the animals and said “ Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the waters in the seas and let the birds multiply in the earth. There was dusk, then dawn. The Fifth day.

Then, God said “Let the earth create living creatures after it’s kind. Cattle, insects, and beasts of the earth after its own kind.” And so it was. God made living creatures on the ground after its kind, and every insect after its kind. God saw that all this was good. So, God said let us make a human in our image, just like us. Let them have responsibility over the fish of the sea, birds of the air. Over the cattle and all the things on the earth, even the insects. God created the human in their own image. In the image of God they created them. Male, female, between and beyond God created them. Then, God blessed them and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and take responsibility for it, and for the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and for every living thing down to the smallest insect.

God said: Look – I have given you every herb yielding seed which lives anywhere on the earth, and every tree which produces seeds in its fruit. To you, these things are food. Likewise, to every animal on the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth with a lifeforce, I have given every green herb for food. And so it was.

God saw every thing that they had made, and Look! It was very good. Then there was dusk, and there was dawn. The sixth day.

So, the heaven and the earth were finished. The whole project. Then on the seventh day, God finished their work and they rested on the seventh day from all they had made. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because in it they rested from all their work which God did in the course of creating.

These were the stories of Heaven and Earth when they were created.

Queeries for the text:
Who is the main character in this story?
Why was this creation narrative chosen?
Where is humanity’s responsibility today?
What queeries do you have for this text?
What does it mean for earth to have a start or a birthday?
Are there multiple starting points? What was present at this starting point?
What does it mean to be beyond or between gender?


Rev. Emily E. Ewing queeries the Gospel reading.

Photo from Disabled and Here
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Them; and some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Provider and of the Prophet and of the Protest, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Queeries for the text:
Which mountain was it?
What are the characteristics of God?  How are our songs about the Spirit disconnected from scriptural references?
What is divine authority like?
How else can we understand the Trinity?
What does it mean for God to be Provider?
What does it mean for God to be Prophet?
What does it mean for God to be Protest?
How is Jesus' great commission problematic?
How is Jesus' great commission comforting?

What are your queeries?